King Solomon, the third king of Israel, was the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. He lived from 1010 to 931 B.C., and became known for his great wisdom, wealth and power beyond any kings. Yet, why did this King, who was the envy of the world, repeatedly say that everything is meaningless and a chasing after the wind?
Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes 1:12-17 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens… I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind… I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
Despite achieving everything that humankind had ever wanted—fame, riches and power—Solomon said that all these are but a chasing after the wind. This was because he had realised that, at the end of this vain and short span, there awaits a common destiny for all.
A Common Destiny for All
Alexander the Great had conquered a vast territory of land stretching from Greece to northwestern India. However, he instructed his men to put his empty hands outside his coffin when he died. He did this to show that just as he came into this world empty-handed, he would depart from this world empty-handed. Even though history recorded King Alexander as one of the most successful military commanders, he could not take anything with him when he died.
French Emperor, Napoléon Bonaparte, is also considered one of the greatest commanders in history. His wars and campaigns are studied in military schools worldwide. At the end of his life, while living as an exile on the island Helena, he said, “Jesus seemed to have failed, but succeeded. I seemed to have succeeded but ultimately lived a life of failure.”
While living on this earth, some may pursue fame; some, riches; and others, power. After pouring in a lifetime of effort running after these goals, we find that all things will, eventually, come to nought. This happens when we face our common destiny—death.
Hebrews 9:27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…
Then, how can we make the best out of life? Time fleets like lightning; are we living our lives chasing after the wind? Even though we do not want to, we sometimes still do, in vain. Life passes in an instant. The brightness and vigour of our youth will soon wither into a grey and feeble shell. Yet, we often wrap ourselves up in our ambitions, so much so that we end up losing sight of what is truly important.
Conclusion of the Matter
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
How do we truly live a righteous life with no regrets? After realising how transient life could be, Solomon concluded that the most meaningful way to live life is to fear God and to keep His commandments.
While living this ephemeral life, let us not forget that there exists another world in parallel to this short-lived one—the eternal kingdom of God—where God Himself will lead us to.
2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
The kingdom of heaven exists for eternity. Even if our lives on this earth may come to an end, the eternal world will not. This earth is not everything. We may strive and toil all the narrow and confined days of our life on this earth, but in the end, everything will perish. Aren’t we just chasing after the wind? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to prepare for the eternal world instead? Then how do we go there? When we believe in God and obey His commands, we can.
John 12:50 I know that his command leads to eternal life…